Campus Connections: Angela Lewis

Many new staff members are on campus for the 2023-24 school year, and in Campus Connections, Wingspan introduces you to the newest Redhawks.
Campus Connections takes a look at some of the newest staff members on campus.
Campus Connections takes a look at some of the newest staff members on campus.
Maddie Owens

Growing up as an ‘army brat’, Angela Lewis is the new counselor on campus. She traveled and lived in multiple parts of the world. She was born in Germany and lived in Frankfurt, Germany for four years. Lewis has also lived in Washington, Dallas, and East Texas. She graduated from Apple Spring High School with a graduating class of 15. From there she graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University. Wingspan sat down with Lewis to find out more about her life as a counselor. 

Wingspan: What subject did you teach before you were a counselor?

Lewis: “English. And I absolutely love teaching English. I guess you’re not asking but I was inspired by my English teacher in high school. Just because she was so kind and compassionate. I don’t even know if I enjoyed that class-maybe it was just her company, how she taught, and her mannerisms where I thought, ‘If I could leave that impression on kids the way she has on me,’ then… you know?” 

Angela Lewis joins The Nest along withh several new staff members for the 2023-24 school year, as a counselor. Wingspan sat down with Lewis to find out more about her life as a counselor. (Natalie Marshall)

Wingspan: What made you want to be a counselor and when did you know you wanted to be in education?

Lewis: “I knew I wanted to be in education when I wanted to extend my basketball career from high school into college. Didn’t work out that way, I ended up getting married and starting a family and coaches schedules do not work well. And that’s when I started teaching English. But I’ve always known that I wanted to give back in the area of education because I was born to do it. Actually. I went back to grad school to be a diagnostician and decided I don’t want to push paperwork all day, I still want to be hands on with students, not only students but then also to be a resource and a help to the campus teachers and administrators and so that’s when I knew that counseling would be the lane that I’d like to take- knowing I wanted to be an education but just on a different level. Doing something different.”

Wingspan: How is counseling different from when you were a teacher?

Lewis: “They’re both really demanding in different ways. So teaching of course, it’s like a puzzle, figuring out how to meet the needs of all of these people that have different things in different ways, and then still getting your lessons across. They’ve got emotional needs, they’ve got educational needs, they’ve got social needs.You’re busy from the time they walk in to the time they leave out. With counseling it’s just as demanding, but it’s more mental exhaustion. And then being the person of resource. I may not have the answers, I need to be the person that can get you the answers. It’s just a different way. It’s not the easiest. It takes a lot of dedication and persistence. Because sometimes students aren’t as welcoming. They’ve got their little box and they may not be used to opening up to people and that’s fine, that’s okay. Then it’s up to me to learn, ‘how do I reach this student?’”

Wingspan: How is this school different from other schools you’ve worked at?

Lewis: “Liberty is a little bit smaller than what I’m used to. And so I’m able-which I’ve only been here for weeks now, but I’m able to start recognizing faces a little bit sooner. The names I’m still working on with pronunciation, but it’s just a smaller atmosphere. It’s a more cozy atmosphere, if you will, personable. So I think I’m going to enjoy that.”

Wingspan: How have your first few weeks been?

Lewis: “Fast and furious. So the person that I’m coming in behind. Zambiasi did an amazing job. And so it’s just her teaching me the ropes of everything that she had in place, then me figuring out the method that works for me to carry out those same tasks because we’re all different. It’s been good, fast and furious.”

Wingspan: What is your favorite part about being a counselor?

Lewis: “I’m meeting lots of great people. For instance, you are already who you’re going to become, so if you aspire to be a dentist, doctor, engineer, architect, a teacher or a mom, you are already that person you’re just on the road to discover it. I like helping and still hope and believe in students to just watch them evolve. My favorite part is even if I don’t see the outcome of it, just knowing that I had a part in helping…even if it’s just one day believing in themselves, because sometimes, we’re all our worst critics. It’s and so some days even if that’s just ‘you’ve got this you know, look at what you’ve overcome so far. And hey, remember when you had this struggle, that earliest challenge and how you overcame that?’ Just a reminder sometimes is all we need.”

Wingspan:  What is the most difficult part about being a counselor?

Lewis: “Probably the clerical side of it. I’m learning a whole new system, with scheduling so that has definitely been the most challenging- just to make sure that I keep up to speed with the scheduling part and all of that. Sitting behind a computer- I’m such a hands-on person, and a people person that doing this is my least favorite.”

Wingspan: What are you looking forward to as a new counselor on campus?

Lewis: “To build relationships and find my lane, figure out where I am to help and assist and be the best that I can be every day, [to] help others.”

Wingspan: Were there any people in your past who have encouraged you or inspired you to pursue this career?

Lewis: “Not specifically, but I would just have to revert back to the teacher I had. She was just so kind. I moved from Dallas to East Texas in middle school, and it was a really hard transition. As you can imagine, I went from this 5A to 6A school, to a class of 15 and I’m like: ‘Whoa, wait.’ [It was] complete culture shock. And I was not happy with my parents because some of the friends and family, everything that I knew, I left behind. I didn’t even realize that I had internalized a lot of that anger. I was not the nicest person to be around with the new people and there was a level of fear of opening up to new people. ‘No one looks like me, no one talks like me, no one sounds like me.’ It was just a whole new experience and she went above and beyond- not overkill, but just to be available. You know, I’ll never forget I had a birthday come around and she brought a little hostess [treat] down. … And it had one little candle in it. And she said, ‘I don’t know what brought you here, but I’m glad you are here.’ [That] changed my life.Those few words changed my life. And I thought, ‘You know what, I need to be nice to this lady, why am I angry with her? She hasn’t done anything to me.’  That was the thing that broke the ice. And I realized, I’m here, I may as well make the best of it. She was the turning point where I thought, ‘What if I could just be that person for one kid?’”

Wingspan: How do you feel like counseling has changed over the years?

Lewis: “Well, counseling has changed because socialization has changed. When I first started, cellphones were not a thing, Social media was not a thing. There were influences, but just not to the magnitude that we see them now. The availability of information that students have at their fingertips has even caused them to not be as good of communicators as they were that I saw then. Everything’s behind the screen, and that takes away from me having to have a conversation with you because guess what, I can just look it up. That would probably be the area that I’ve seen the most change in is the socialization of people as a human race. The communication, not just for replying, but like actually understanding, and [having] dialogue. Not ‘Hey, did you see what such and such posted?’ And that’d be the nature of the conversation. Don’t get me wrong, technology’s amazing-It helps us tremendously. But that is what I’ve seen: The most change is in [communication] as a human race with socialization. Everybody needs their time [to be disconnected from others]. I mean, I’m not saying that that’s not important to you.When I go to the gym, the first thing I do is put my headphones on myself. But I feel like it has a time and a place. I feel communication is important, I feel that it’s necessary.” 

Wingspan: Do you feel like [communication] has changed after COVID-19, after 2020?

Lewis: “Definitely. So many students were still developing important skills during that time and they were locked away, they were not able to participate in functions with school or family or friends. And I do remember my freshmen last year at my previous school, they were affected their seventh and eighth grade [years]. And the way they came over to high school versus my ninth graders before then, it’s night and day. It was so different because they just lacked lots of skills- not just in the classroom, but communicating, follow through. They attended an online school- it was kind of like a hybrid thing. And they were just so used to that, that they didn’t even want to come back to school. Who wants to get up and put on clothes and go and follow rules? But you need to do that. That’s important. So yes, Covid tremendously impacted education, socialization, all the [areas].”

Wingspan: So when you say that communication skills are different and they changed, how so?

Lewis: “Even with teachers on campus, I noticed a disconnect. Not to say that people weren’t nice to each other because they were …‘I’m in my own mind, I log in, I plug in, I do what I need to do, and I really don’t need to talk to you about anything.’ We really don’t need to collaborate as much as we did [collaborate] when students were here and in our faces every day. Having our team meetings once a month or once a week, [asking each other], ‘Hey, how are you doing with this situation? Or hey, did you see this at lunchtime?’ Just communication in general [was less after Covid].”

Wingspan: What advice would you give to someone who is considering being a counselor?

Lewis: “Definitely follow your heart. Whatever it is that you wake up and can’t see yourself doing anything else. That is what you need to be doing. And if that is counseling, I will say, take care of you. It’s hard to pour from an empty cup. And as an educator you give and you give and you give, but you need to find ways to make sure that you’re replenished so that you don’t burn out. And so that you continue to be a consistent resource. You have to take care of yourself. You still have life going on for yourself. For example, my kid is a sophomore in college now but her senior year in high school, I felt like I’d neglected her a little bit because I’m always so pulled in so many directions where I had to scale back. And not to say that I didn’t do my job as effectively. I just had to do things differently. So that I could carve out more time for what’s important because you don’t get that time back. With the same token, I don’t get this time back. If a student is in my presence, I can never get that time back. So I need to make the best of it. So just balance. Balance learning how to not take things home with you. The stresses and the worries and all of that [you have] to leave them at work. You’ve got to take care of you. In education, you’ve got to have your self care.”

Wingspan: Describe a typical day in your life as a counselor.

Lewis: “There’s no typical day. It looks different every day. For the most part, we try to get here early just to get ourselves gathered and centered. That’s when I try to take care of any emails or respond to inside or outside. The clerical part of it, I try to get that done early on because I know once kids hit the campus [it gets busy.] Right now, [there are] lots of senior things going on, students are starting to apply for college. So Common App situations are happening. Colleges coming in to visit to say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re offering right now. This is how rules have changed right now.’ And then once that slows down a little bit, it’s going to be Junior Minute meetings. ‘What are we doing with juniors?’ And then sophomores and so it looks different every day. Yesterday, was training over at Administration for technology. So you just never know. Lots of meetings. So [the days are] never the same.”

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